The Circumcision of Our Lord
Circumcision was a sacrament of the Old Law, and the first legal observance required of the descendants of Abraham by Almighty God. It was a sacrament of initiation in the service of God, and a promise, an engagement, to believe and act as He had revealed and directed. The law of circumcision continued in force until the death of Christ. Our Saviour having thus been born under the law, it became Him who came to teach mankind obedience to the law of God,to fulfill all justice, and to submit to it. He was circumcised that He might redeem those who were under the law, by freeing them from the servitude of it, and that those who were formerly in the condition of servants might be set at liberty and receive the adoption of sons in Baptism, which, by Christ's institution, succeeded to circumcision. (Cf. Gal. 4:5)
On the day when the divine Infant was circumcised, He received the name of JESUS, which was assigned to Him by the Angel before He was conceived, and which signifies SAVIOUR. That name, so beautiful, so glorious, the divine Child does not wish to bear for one moment without fulfilling its meaning. Even at the moment of His circumcision He showed Himself a SAVIOUR by shedding for us that blood of which a single drop is more than sufficient for the ransom and salvation of the whole world.
Reflection. Let us profit by the circumstance of the New Year, and of the wonderful renewal wrought in the world by the great mystery of this day, to renew in our hearts an increase of fervor and of generosity in the service of God. May this year be one of fervor and of progress! It will go by rapidly, like the one which has just ended. If God permits us to see its end, how happy we shall be to have passed it in a holy manner!
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894)